Monday, April 9, 2012

Big Bang Theory

Anarchy A to Z:
a guide to understanding our history unfolding for the anesthetized and apathetic

G is for God. 

   God. Some of us love it. Some of us love to deny its existence. Some of us see it in a sunset. Some of us are inspired to spill blood for it. Anarchists are no proponents of religion. No Gods, no masters is their battle cry, but we have to recognize the centrality of religion, even in a secular society. Understanding what god is can help liberate us from fear.

   Two distinct pathways developed early in human history. The first was to subscribe certain natural phenomena to acts of a deity, a power unknown. These were often anthropomorphized, but not necessarily. God, in all religion, explains the origins of human life. Even the most complex sciences cannot explain the origin of energy, although they certainly refute the Creation myths of all religious traditions. The second pathway declared that it was not a pluralist society of gods that dictated the unknown, but a single entity. This conceptualization emerged with a tribe of herdsman that relied on this single entity to explain distinct but varied topography and flora. As they travelled, the mystery of the world could not be explained as the individual domains of individual gods. The awe of the mysterious was more accessible to the pastoralist, lest we suspect Abel’s fruit was rotten.

   Monotheism dominates global religion. This is largely due to the success of imperialism and imperial systems, and political systems of control. As Rome dissolved slowly, as the U.S. will in turn, its last rulers attempted to pacify the steppe peoples by instituting Christianity. Constantine created laws to loosen discrimination against Christians and severed many of its ties to Judaism. Islam surfaced as a desert spin on Christianity, without the “son of god” falsity. If we add the Protestant Reformation to this mix, the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient god of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition is continually evolving enterprise. It was an enterprise based on fear of the unknown, and it employed the control mechanism of fear.

   Before the Westphalian order, before the cornerstone of nationalism had been laid, God served Western civilization’s greatest inspiration for violence. And it still does today. Now, religion is not dormant by any measure. All one has to do is turn on Fox News and watch God’s.Own.Party battle it out for the title of most pious one. The antiMuslim, antisecularist rhetoric is a problem, and one might argue perfectly aligned with the end game of American fascism. Indeed, it is imperative we understand how fear has given way to the behemoth of the state, releasing it to proliferate and legitimize existing systems of hierarchy and injustice and to trample on individuals so long as it allows us the illusion of control over the things we can’t explain. However, if we ever want a just society, we have to abandon fundamentalism in all things. Religious fundamentalism serves the public’s interest not at all and the human history’s, even less. Yet, the biological wiring of fear causes us to turn to religion and God for our answers to our greatest philosophical questions. And in these questions, we may find the idea of god, neither as a master nor a vengeful spirit demanding submission to its will, not as the antithesis of reason, but as a path to a social revolution.

   In investigating the anthropological origins of statism, I entertain the idea that the priestly classes of our earliest civilizations were the first states--although without the modernity of ideas like sovereignty. Atheists can, however, choose to view God as the executrix of absolute power and dismiss the idea as contrary to the fundamental tenants of anarchy, but that too would be to resort to secular fundamentalism. We must recognize that human beings want answers that are not there. States, like god, fill a void inherent in every human being. They help dispel fear. Therefore, if we expect to end injustice and create the world we want to live in, we cannot ignore one of the most basic human responses to biological fear.

  A much more useful way to conceptualize god is contained in Robert Jensen’s All My Bones Shake. While we seek justice, the end of empire and ecological balance, we need to stop squabbling over the existence and nature of god and instead focus efforts on much more constructive pursuits. Simply replace the word “god” with “mystery” and fear disappears. Our inhibitions will become much more malleable. Mystery itself is relegation to powerlessness, an acceptance that not all things can be controlled or explained. To abandon the injustices of global predatory corporate capitalism, we need to accept that we did not get it right the first time. If we want to remake the world, we have to accept that we may not get it right this time either. The future is a mystery and we’d do well to accept it.

   The world would be unjust without the state and without capitalism. But if we view god as the mystery in the universe—a word to describe the indescribable—then, we can begin to erect a social consciousness and a culture of justice. We cannot right the wrongs we witness simply by pushing power from one class to another. We cannot redress the disparities we have created by changing the tax code. We cannot plant a forest big enough to reconcile their rape if we do not plant the seeds of something bigger… and brighter.

   We need another big bang. We need a moment where we cleanse ourselves of fear and bias. But we can’t calculate our way there. We need to turn inward, to an individual spirituality, to reconnect with what we have already lost. If we can accept that we do not have the answers to remedying our crises, we can simply accept that exist. If we embrace the mystery of the unknown, we can begin to reflect on the present and get to work doing something—anything at all!—about the coming shit storm.


  1. Very interesting stuff going on here. I am digging the posts!

  2. Wow! What a treat, I am here from A-Z and you challenge the mind. I will be back!